Attn: All INMO Members
I write to advise you that the Government has responded to a request by the ICTU Public Services Committee to extend the ‘grace’ period under the Haddington Road agreement to the end of June 2015. The ‘grace’ period is a period during which the reduction in pay for those earning over €65,000 and any deferral of increment progression will be disregarded for pension purposes.
2. Sick Leave Changes
As members are aware, sick leave changes have been introduced for all public servants. The government have now introduced legislation which confirms the changes and the new sick leave scheme is now in place effective from 1st April 2014. If you did not have an opportunity to attend the INMO Information meetings, please familiarise yourself with these changes by looking at the explanatory bulletins on our website. It is extremely important that you contact your Human Resources Department and get confirmation of your current sick leave record.
As you are aware, sick leave is calculated on the basis of the previous four years (rolling backwards) – you must establish what sick leave you have taken since April 2010 and maintain a personal record to ensure you are in receipt of the correct entitlement should you ever need it.
As we have explained at the regional meetings and in our explanatory documentation, sick leave is measured in days, not hours. Some employers continue to insist that it is recorded in hours and the INMO has challenged this to the Labour Court on 14th March 2014 and the Labour Court have confirmed the INMO interpretation as being correct. (Extract from Recommendation No. LCR20731 dated 28th March 2014 as follows:-
“Recommendation – The issue before the Court concerns the interpretation of the sick pay scheme in respect of the staff rostered to work on shift. The Union dispute management’s interpretation of a sick day for those employees whose rostered day exceeds the norm (7.8 hours). It sought implementation of the provisions of sick pay as detailed in Department of Health Circular 10/71, which only makes reference to “days”.
Management stated its practice with regard to sick leave entitlement is to allocate a bank of hours based on the norm i.e. a 7.8 hour day. For employees whose roster exceeds 7.8 hours, the number of hours rostered is deducted from the banked hours when they are out sick.
The Court has considered the submissions of both parties and Department of Health Circular 10/71 and the more recent 020/2013. The Court is of the view that sick pay should be granted in accordance with the Department of Health Circulars and consistent with those Circular, a day’s absence should be regarded as an employee’s rostered working day. Therefore the Court does not accept that the practice engaged in by the employer is consistent with those Circulars.
The Court so recommends.”
This is an important clarification and one that is welcomed by the INMO.
3. Student Nurse Issues – LRC
The INMO continues to argue matters relating to student nurse pay and conditions. As there was no agreement during direct discussions with the HSE, three issues were referred to the Labour Relations Commission. These issues are:
a) Application of incremental credit for the 36 week clinical placement in the final year;
b) Effects of the introduction of a 39 hour week on the rate of pay; and
c) Payment for a period post qualification pre-registration (approx. 6 weeks).
A conciliation conference was held on 2nd April 2014 at the Labour Relations Commission in respect of these matters. A resolution was not arrived at and an adjournment for five weeks has been agreed at which time the parties will reconvene at the Labour Relations Commission.
4. Incremental Adjustment at Max. of Scale
As per previous notifications regarding incremental adjustment for those at maximum of scale, the HSE have now confirmed the following:-
In addition to the three options previously available under the Haddington Road Agreement, which are:
1. half the most recent increment (net value);
2. 6 annual leave days over the lifetime of the Agreement; or
3. the monetary value of the 6 days annual leave.
An additional facility to take unpaid leave is available to employees of the health service. The HSE stipulate that this unpaid leave request must have been lodged since 1st July 2013 and excludes unpaid leave sanctioned under statutory entitlement, e.g. maternity and parental leave. The HSE also state that leave arising from career break is excluded. It is important for our members to consider all options. However unpaid leave in the majority of cases is likely to be the most expensive and it will reduce pensionable service by that number of days. The other three options have no pension implications.
Nurses and midwives on the maximum of their scale are advised that for the majority the cheaper option is option 1 above: half the most recent increment (net).
As previously advised, over a long period of time the INMO have being requesting the lifting of the moratorium on recruitment for nursing and midwifery grades. Unfortunately this has not been conceded by the HSE and the moratorium remains in place. HSE figures now demonstrate that there are 5,100 WTE less nurses/midwives working in 2014 than there was in 2009.
The matter was referred as a dispute to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on 7th March. A further conciliation conference was held on 20th March and a resolution was not arrived at. The INMO’s argument is that the reduction in nursing numbers resulting from the moratorium is unsustainable.
Clearly this has impacted on the service and the ability of nurses and midwives to provide a safe level of care to patients. The INMO have argued that it is also inefficient from a cost perspective as the HSE are now engaging the service of in excess of 700 agency nurses/midwives per week. While these facts are not disputed, a resolution was not arrived at and the HSE sought an adjournment for five weeks which has been granted and the parties are to reconvene at the Labour Relations Commission towards the end of April to continue dealing with these issues.
Any further clarification on Haddington Road implementation matters will be notified to you and updates relating to matters in procedure will also be advised to you.
Thank you for your attention to this Notice.
PHIL Ni SHEAGHDHA,
Director of Industrial Relations.
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